Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are Diamonds Rare?

In the 1870s at the Kimberley mine in South Africa a 128-carat, canary-yellow diamond called simply The Tiffany, was discovered. The diamond-encrusted mines at Kimberly became known as kimberlites and their discovery began a huge mining operation that continues to this day.

What the kimberlites offered was once-rare gem to millions upon millions of ordinary consumers and soon after thousands of prospectors were thrown into fierce competition causing diamond prices plummeted from 500 dollars to ten cents a carat.

With diamonds increasingly in abundance, Cecil Rhodes founded the De Beers Mining Company as a group of diamond producers. His first aim was to control production to prevent too many diamonds hitting the market and therefore keep prices high.

By controlling the supply and demand since that time De Beers has perhaps become the most successful cartel of the 20th century. In the 1920s De Beers ran a successful marketing campaign that transform the public imagination about the diamond and has to this day managed to link diamonds as a symbol of human love and devotion. In 1994, the Department of Justice charged De Beers in a price fixing scheme. Although the company denies the allegations the company failed to turn up in court and so the matter remains unresolved.

To the question that is sometimes asked "Are diamonds rare or are their prices hideously inflated?" De Beers officials are usually unresponsive on these points but instead they claim that the company has "democratised" diamonds by offering them to millions of ordinary consumers.

Critics argue that diamonds are at best semi-precious stones and that were it not for De Beers, and considering the amount of diamonds in current circulation and the amount that are stock piled by De Beers, consumer quality gems commonly used for engagement rings should be cheap and in abundance.

Do you think that diamonds are rare and would you consider them as an investment?

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How Should Recreational Drugs Be Classified?

A number of countries have recently looked at the systems used for classifying drugs. A recent UK report stated that they found "The system for classifying drugs is inconsistent, irrational and "not fit for purpose".

The same report was highly critical of the police, the Government and its advisers and called for the classification system to be put on a scientific basis, according to the harm a substance causes.

The committee that compiled the report took advice from a panel of drug experts and concluded that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than ecstasy, LSD and cannabis, based on a "rational" classification system that the committee strongly supported.

The committee took into account research conducted by the University of Bristol who assessed a list of 20 drugs, legal and illegal, in nine categories and weighed up the physical harm, tendency to induce dependence and the impact on families, communities and society.

Using a "rational" ranking method showed that some legal substances were much riskier than those deemed most dangerous, the current Class A drugs. Others that have been demonised, notably ecstasy, are near the bottom of the table of risk.

Even though it is legal alcohol was high up the new scale because it is involved in more than half of all visits to accident and emergency departments and orthopaedic admissions. Alcohol often leads to violence and is a frequent cause of car accidents.

Another legal drug tobacco is estimated to cause up to 40 per cent of all hospital illness and 60 per cent of drug-related fatalities.

By the experts' method, alcohol and tobacco would both be Class B drugs which in the UK currently includes Amphetamines, Methylphenidate (Ritalin), Pholcodine and carries a punishment for possession of up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine; Or both.

The committee want to see the classification of drugs routinely reassessed using a rational and court sentences for drug abuse stratified according to how far up the new scale a drug lies.

Do you think that the classification of drugs should be based on risk factors and not the present systems that tend to be inconsistent and the results of ad hoc judgments and historical accidents?

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What's Your View Of The Modern Man?

For many societies around the world the man is still seen as the main bread winner while the female role is to raise the family and concentrate on the home.

For the developed nations that traditional role has slowly been challenged and house-husbands are not uncommon and finding females who have the more financial rewarding career in a partnership is now not that unusual.

Do you believe that in any relationship tradition should prevail and it should be the male who provides for the family and the female who makes the home?

Do you believe that the roles should be reversed or that responsibilities should be shared without any pre-conditioned view as to who should do what in a relationship?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Are The World's Favourite Buildings?

There are stunning buildings throughout the world, some built in ancient times, some modern day wonders.

Which buildings are your favourite and which of those we have short listed have you visited, or would like to visit?

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Should People Drink Water From The Tap Or The Bottle?

For many years there have been many studies that have concluded that for countries that have well developed water treatment, bottled water is often no healthier or safer to drink than tap water.

Organisations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature have for many years argued that bottled water is not only environmentally unfriendly but also a waste of money.

However, despite high quality and availability of tap water, the research findings and the high cost of bottled water the developed world continues to consume bottled water at an alarming rate.

The city of New York launched an advertising campaign to try and persuade people to give up bottled drinks and consume tap water instead to help protect the environment. New York's city officials have said that they hope that their campaign will save people money and reduce waste.

Environmental groups claim that four out of five plastic water bottles end up on landfill sites and the production process and distribution process, sometimes involving shipping water halfway around the world, causes global warming.

The Bottled Water Association have been reported to say that they think it unfair to single out an industry that is promoting recycling and introducing biodegradable packaging.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, Food and Water Watch, Americans drank 37 billion bottles' worth in 2005.

Nearly 40 percent of bottled water is in fact bottled treated tap water and the federal government requires far more vigorous testing of municipal water than bottled water.

Is New York city correct to try and promote tap water?

Do you currently prefer to drink tap or bottled water and which do you think is better for you?

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Should the US Presidency Meet With Enemy States?

In 2008 the two front runners for the Democratic nomination, New York senator Hillary Clinton and the Illinois senator Barack Obama, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

Hillary Clinton said that she would not promise to meet with the leaders of enemy nations stating that a new president had to be careful not to be exploited by hostile leaders for propaganda purposes and not to do anything "that would make the situation worse." Before any meeting, she'd have to know "what the way forward would be."

Barack Obama on the other hand said that he thought it a disgrace that "we haven't talked to leaders of the five anti-American countries" and pointed out that despite President Reagan calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire" he still talked to Soviet leaders.

Do you think that dialogue between hostile nations is the way forward and is an opportunity that is too easily overlooked?

In politics, is last year's enemy, this year's friend as was the case of Libya's Colonel Gaddafi in 2004; or a few years later last year's friend this year's pariah as was the case of Gaddafi in 2011?

Can an end to conflicts like Northern Ireland only be achieved once the politicians have opened up a discussion?

Is the willingness to meet face to face with your enemy a sign of weakness?

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Classic Movies That Should Never be Remade

The movie industry likes a remake and can take a foreign classic like the Seven Samurai and turn it into a classic western like The Magnificent Seven. Sometimes they are just content on updating films like The Thomas Crown Affair and Ocean's Eleven.

Are there any classic movies that are too sacred to touch or is everything up for grabs?

We list some classic movies that have to date not been remade and ask you if they should be left alone or are ideal remake material?
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Is 9/11 Still Killing the Rescue Workers and Survivors?

Since 11 September 2001 many of the rescue and recovery workers and local residents are suffering sickness and in some cases death due to what many believe was a result of all the toxic substances released into the environment.

Is 9/11 still killing people?

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

If Jed Bartlett Really Was the US President?

The TV series the West Wing has the Democrat Jed Bartlett as President of the United States.

Regardless of your actual political views or your entitlement to vote in the US elections if Jed Bartlett was the real President how would you rate him?

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Qantas - Pilots v Maintenance Engineers

The following are supposedly some actual maintenance complaints/problems, generally known as squawks, that were apparently submitted by Qantas pilots to maintenance engineers (although the same list from other sources has attributed them to the US Air Force). After attending to the squawks, maintenance crews are required to log the details of the action taken to solve the pilots' squawks.

Vote for your best reply to a pilot's squawk.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

If Animals Could Talk?

Many people in the world are meat eaters and have accepted that it is the way of the world that animals are reared and then slaughtered for food.

In developed countries the number grows of people who out of personal choice, and not for any religious or economic reasons, choose to be vegetarians.

We ask those of you that still eat meat if you would still eat meat if animals were able to effectively communicate with humans?

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Intelligent Design or Evolution?

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. Intelligent Design is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. Although given a new name the theory is centuries old and in an attempt to explain the premise in layman terms the English theologian William Paley put forward a famous watchmaker analogy:- If we find a pocket watch in a field, we immediately infer that it was produced not by natural processes acting blindly but by a designing human intellect. Likewise, the natural world contains abundant evidence of a supernatural creator. This argument found favour until Darwin's publication of the Origin of Species in 1859.

Darwin argued that evolution by natural selection better explained life's complexity and diversity. Darwins theory of evolution gradually overtook the Intelligent Design theory and for many years became the accepted thought and the one that was taught in science.

Fast forward 150 years and the debate is back out of the box. In the US supporters of Intelligent Design are not only arguing that it should be recognised but that it should also be taught in science.

Do you think that Darwin's theory of evolution explains everything, can Intelligent Design be a valid alternative, and is there room in science for two such opposing theories?

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British Museum - Saint or Sinner?

The "Elgin Marbles" are the most prized collection of the British Museum, the most important objects being the frieze and other architectural sculptures rescued by Lord Elgin from the ruins of the Parthenon, with the approval of the appropriate authorities, at the beginning of the 19th century. The entire collection was purchased from him by the British Government in 1816 and entrusted to the British Museum "to be preserved and kept together."

In fulfilment of this responsibility the Museum is open seven days a week, free of charge, and attracts more than 6 million visitors a year from all parts of the world.

Critics however say that Elgin did not purchase the items from the appropriate authorities but instead bribed local officials with luxurious presents.

Is it now time for the British Museum to accept that they are guilty of receiving stolen goods and to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece or do Elgin and the British Museum deserve credit for both recognising and preserving priceless artifacts that would otherwise have been destroyed?

What do you think?

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paul Newman - How Great an Actor and His Best Three Movies?

On May 25 2007 Paul Newman announced that he was retiring from acting entirely.

Born in 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio he started acting in grade school and high school plays. He spent a year at the Yale Drama School and attended the famed New York Actors Studio. His first film, The Silver Chalice (1954) was nearly his last as he considered his performance in this costume epic to be so bad that he took out a full-page ad in a trade paper apologising to anyone who might have seen it.

However he followed it up with Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) where he portrayed the boxer Rocky Graziano and received rave reviews from the critics for his brilliant performance and went on to become one of the top box office draws of the 1960s, starring in such films as The Hustler (1961), The Prize (1963), Hud (1963), Cool Hand Luke (1967) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).

He also produced and directed many quality films and was nominated nine times for a best actor Oscar, winning once for his performance as an ageing pool shark in The Color of Money (1986).

He also found the time to launch the "Newman's Own" brand, a successful line of food products that has earned in excess of $100 million, every penny of which he has donated to charity.

In his eighties he stated that he didn't feel he can continue acting on the level that he would want to. "You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that's pretty much a closed book for me."

On September 26, 2008, age 83, surrounded by his family and close friends, he took a final bow and passed away.

How do you rate Paul Newman as an actor and from our shortlist of movies what do you think were his top three?

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